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Preview: Atletico - Kiel


It is the clash of the titans, the re-match of the previous final, the opening showdown of two of the best handball teams in the world: When Atlético Madrid host THW Kiel on Sunday in the Match of the Week on ehfTV in Round 1 of the VELUX EHF Champions the number of superlatives and records is as long as the tradition of these fixtures. On Sunday four current or former Olympic champions, seven world champions, five EHF EURO champions, two former EHF Champions League top scorers and four former world handball players of the year will face in the duel of Group B. Both teams have partly chnaged their squads during the summer break. Both teams imprinted the past seven years of this competition like no others: No EHF Champions League final had been carried out since 2005 without at least one of these powerhouses of European handball. Both clubs have each three VELUX EHF Champions League trophies in their cabinet: The Spaniards took all titles named Ciudad Real in 2006, 2008 and 2009, Kiel have won the trophy in 2007, 2010 and 2012. Three times both teams faced in the continental top-flight final, two times Atlético was the winner, once Kiel. Their head-to-head statistic is absolutely equal: In 12 fixtures no match ended with a tie, and Madrid and Kiel took six victories each. For the first timer ever both teams clashed in the 2002 EHF Champions Trophy bronze match with Ciudad Real as a winner – the result 32:20 remained the biggest margin between both clubs by now.

The next two duels were the finals of the EHF Champions League season 2007/08, when both teams lost their respective home matches – and Ciudad celebrated their second Champions League trophy by aggregate goals (+4). Four months later the Spaniards again were the winners in the semi-final of the final edition of the EHF Champions Trophy in Veszprém, Hungary (31:24), before winning the title in the final against the host. In the 2008/2009 season both teams faced four times, each winning their two home matches – first in the Main Round, then again in the two finals (the last time the Champions League champion was decided in a play-offs, before the VELUX EHF FINAL4 was implemented). Kiel had seemed to have broken the Ciudad Real curse by 39:34 win on home ground, but the Spaniards stroke back, winning the title - for the last time by now - thanks to 33:27 in the second leg. One year later the powerhouses crossed their swords at the first VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne. On their way to their second title Kiel managed to beat Ciudad Real thanks to a brilliant catch-up chase 29:27 in the semi-final. Again 12 months later Kiel took another victory against their old rival in the final of the IHF Super Globe, before they faced each other in their third fixture of a Champions League final in Cologne in 2012, with Kiel raising the trophy after a 26:21 victory. Madrid took revenge in September 2012 by taking back the IHF Super Globe thanks to a 28:23 final victory in Doha. So everything is well-prepared for another clash on Sunday.